2011 Audi A8 4.2 FSI Quattro

Friday, December 10, 2010; 10:31 AM

Bottom line: The A8 4.2 FSI Quattro sedan defines automotive luxury. It's not "entry-level." Nor is it "affordable" for most of us. It is what luxury is supposed to be - exclusive, innovative, a class of its own.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Superior performance in all three.

Body style/layout: The A8 4.2 is a full-size, front-engine, all-wheel-drive luxury sedan. Construction uses patented Audi Space Frame (ASF) technology, which mates aluminum with strategic applications of high-strength steel.

Engine/transmission: The A8 4.2, as its name indicates, comes with a 4.2-liter, 32-valve FSI ("fuel stratified injection"), gasoline engine (372 horsepower, 328 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is mated to an electronically controlled eight-speed automatic transmission.

Changes for 2011: The new Audi A8 4.2's V-8 has 22 more horsepower and three foot-pounds more torque than its predecessor. The new car's body is three inches longer and two inches wider than that of the previous model. An eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the six-speed automatic gearbox. Stylistically, the front end of the new car is markedly more aggressive than the front end of the 2010 version.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Luggage capacity is 13.2 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 23.8 gallons of gasoline. Premium is required.

Mileage: The Environmental Protection Agency's estimate is 17 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway. I got 15 miles per gallon in the city (D.C. traffic) and 30 miles per gallon on the highway (late-night driving, Interstate 66).

Safety: Standard equipment includes ventilated disc brakes front and rear; anti-lock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; pre-collision safety system; post-collision safety system; and knee, side and head air bags.

Price: The base price on the 2011 Audi A8 4.2 FSI Quattro sedan is $78,050. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $72,587. Price as tested is $93,525, including $14,600 in options (Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system, ventilated and heated front seats with massage capability, upgraded leather-covered seats, dual-pane acoustic and security glass, 20-inch-diameter wheels) and an $875 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $87,041.

Next week: Back to Earth with something for the rest of us.

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